Fdd's overnight brief

August 27, 2021

In The News


More than 100 people were killed, including at least 13 U.S. service members and 90 Afghans, at the Kabul airport Thursday when two blasts ripped through crowds trying to enter the American-controlled facility, disrupting the final push of the U.S.-led evacuation effort. – Wall Street Journal 

However, the Islamist movement’s victory in Afghanistan has elevated its most radical and violent branch, the Haqqani network. – Wall Street Journal 

President Biden on Thursday confronted the most volatile crisis of his young presidency, the deaths of at least 13 Americans in Afghanistan that threatened to undermine his credentials as a seasoned global leader and a steady hand. – Washington Post 

Condolences and condemnation poured in from world leaders following the twin blasts outside Kabul’s airport Thursday that left dozens dead or wounded. The Taliban, Afghanistan’s de facto ruler, said it launched an investigation of the attack. – Washington Post 

Evacuation flights from Afghanistan resumed with new urgency on Friday, a day after two suicide bombings targeted the thousands of desperate people fleeing the Taliban takeover. – Associated Press 

Sahar is one of the many groups suspending operations in Afghanistan in the wake of the Taliban takeover and ensuing violence. – NPR 

The spokesman and head of foreign relations for Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Massoud said the Biden administration has not been in touch with the group since Taliban insurgents seized control of Afghanistan this month. – Washington Examiner 

U.S. officials reportedly provided the Taliban with a list of people to grant entry to at Hamid Karzai International Airport — a decision with potentially deadly consequences. – Washington Examiner 

Most of the 1,000 American citizens known to be in Afghanistan “are nearly or already out of the country,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s team. – Washington Examiner 

The suicide bombing at Kabul’s airport is crystalizing a harsh reality for aid groups and U.S. policymakers: thousands of Afghan allies are likely to be left behind on Aug. 31 when the American evacuation is set to end under President Biden’s deadline. – The Hill 

Editorial: But the Kabul airport massacre compounds the humiliation of the botched Afghan withdrawal and will further embolden jihadists. Mr. Biden is telling Americans that Afghanistan won’t again become a terror haven, but it already is. The hundreds of jihadists released from prisons with the Taliban victory are already on the attack. More Americans will become targets—and far beyond the borders of Afghanistan. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The future agenda for a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan and its relations with the world now includes accountability for what has happened. The United States should take swift retaliation on ISIS-K, whose deed certainly reminds, as if there were any doubt, that terrorism threats still do exist in, and emanate from, the Afghan territory that U.S. troops are about to abandon. […]New questions can, and should, be raised about the wisdom of his decision to withdraw and the manner in which he and his team have executed it. – Washington Post 

Editorial: Who miscalculated how quickly the Afghan government would collapse? Who decided that giving up Bagram Airfield and operating out of Kabul airport was the best option? Who decided to trust the Taliban to provide security? Somebody made these decisions and must be held accountable. For starters, Austin and Milley must resign. – Washington Examiner 

Josh Rogin writes: Yes, the United States will save billions by not arming the Afghan National Army (problematic partner that it was). But now we face the costs of dealing with the fallout, which already includes caring for tens of thousands of new refugees. The United States undermined its credibility with its allies, damaged its ability to earn the trust of future local partners and abandoned millions of innocent people it professed to care about to a cruel fate. Meanwhile, Taliban-ruled Afghanistan is already becoming a haven for terrorist groups of all stripes. – Washington Post 

David Ignatius writes: And while the CIA warned that the Afghan government was shaky, even pessimists thought it might not fall until October or November. Biden sought to calm that discord Thursday with an embrace of a military that is grieving. But rest assured: When the histories are written, there will be enough blame for all to share. For today, too much sorrow. – Washington Post 

Mark Mazzetti, Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman write: Any terrorist attack originating from Afghanistan would expose Mr. Biden to fierce criticism from his political opponents that it was a result of his decision to pull American troops from the country — yet another factor that is likely to bring intense White House pressure on spy agencies to keep a laser focus on Afghanistan. – New York Times 

Nolan Peterson writes: By giving the Afghans a taste of democracy for 20 years, we have sown the expectation of freedom in their minds. Taliban leaders can try to suppress it, but the desire for freedom is an immutable part of the human heart. Freedom is always worth fighting for, and plenty of dark forces like the Soviets have foundered in the end, even after gaining power. The Taliban will be no exception. – Wall Street Journal 

Peggy Noonan writes: But what if we’d gotten Tora Bora right? Think of what might have followed. Bin Laden and his lieutenants captured or dead, an insult answered. Maybe a few more months in Afghanistan for America while the bad guys were fully, truly broken. […]Human, ragged and clear. What would have followed? Who knows? But it’s hard to imagine it would be worse than the 20-year muddle and the troops and treasure lost. – Wall Street Journal  

Ruth Pollard writes: Adding fuel to this fire is the increasing belief — particularly among those who lean toward jihad and violence but are not quite there yet —  that politics doesn’t work, nor does democracy or the nation state as defined by the West. […]Al Aqeedi says IS actions will actually help the new rulers of Kabul. “If anything,” she says, “it strengthens the Taliban’s positioning as a lesser evil.” Just think about that: The Taliban as the lesser evil. If there’s anything that symbolizes the failure of the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan, this is it. – Bloomberg 

Greg Gross writes: So our objective today remains getting Americans, allied citizens, and Afghan friends out of the country without a firefight. But if the Taliban, al Qaeda, or ISIS-K prevent this, and do worse, all bets are off. […]A controlled strategic withdrawal from our longest war is now an ignominious capitulation with the prospect of a renewed, bloodier war. – Washington Examiner 

Tom Rogan writes: Robinson offers another possibility: covert ground rescues conducted on a case by case basis. While similar operations to bring people to Kabul airport have been carried out by the U.S. and by the British, in particular , a covert pipeline out of Afghanistan could also be employed. The risks would be high and the scale limited, however. Put simply, Biden now has a most difficult choice in front of him. – Washington Examiner 

Kaylee McGhee White writes: The Americans in Afghanistan took Biden at his word. Our president assured them that his withdrawal would not result in chaos, and they believed him. It is not their fault that he lied; it is not their fault that he created the conditions that have left them stranded. No one but Biden is to blame for this tragedy, and if even one American is left behind because of the decisions he made, he should be forced to own it. – Washington Examiner 

Terree Bowers writes: For many, withdrawal from a perpetual war will be viewed as a good result. I understand, but I keep remembering the faces of those brave Afghan women who were leading their country towards a more just and free nation. What about them? – The Hill 

David J. Wasserstein writes: Rational actors in the West surely understand that. When U.S. officials suggest otherwise, they are talking more to their TV audiences at home than to the Taliban. To the Taliban they are talking – a rational act – about getting a few more days to get their people out. That is why CIA Director William Burns went to Kabul last weekend. While it is comforting for the defeated to think that the victors will somehow disappear very quickly, the Taliban is here to stay. – The Hill 

Nadia Schadlow writes: While there are no silver linings of the debacle in Afghanistan, perhaps at least more Americans will once again become aware that we live in a dangerous world, and that messy conflicts do not simply disappear when we refuse to acknowledge them. – The Hill 

Skye Christensen writes: If we are to avoid future Kabulesque failures, we need to free our otherwise capable foreign service officers to do their jobs. This means accepting that people serving abroad will face a reasonable amount of risk — and giving them impetus to do their work out in the real world where it matters. American taxpayers should demand that the Biden administration make American embassies great again, by abolishing the security apparatus that prevents diplomats from being diplomats and spies from spying. – The Hill 

Bhaskar Chakravorti writes: Whatever steps Facebook takes in Afghanistan, it should make sure that its technology does not displace human judgment. Its own left hand must track what its right one is doing, even as Facebook joins hands with the larger international community to not get things wrong yet again in Afghanistan. To the Afghan people now left to their fate under the Taliban, we owe at least this much. – Foreign Policy 

Sajjan M. Gohel writes: Although the Taliban will face criticism for not preventing the attack, to them the bigger prize is the West’s departure. For them, the death of innocent Afghans at the hands of the Islamic State-Khorasan is merely a strategic means to an end. Islamic State-Khorasan and the Taliban may resume their squabbles, but they also have more in common with each other than they have differences. The perennial losers in this remain the Afghan people. – Foreign Policy 

Michael Hirsh writes: Considerable skepticism remains about the Taliban’s intentions, especially since the militants still maintain a relationship with al Qaeda. But in the weeks since the Taliban takeover, it has become clear that the group’s leadership is wary of again becoming an international pariah. […]One potential problem for maintaining U.S. counterterrorism capabilities in Afghanistan is the shift in focus away from fighting terrorists and back toward rivalries with great powers, especially China. – Foreign Policy 

John Podhoretz writes: The status quo held. And then Joe Biden, in between licks of his ice cream cones, heedlessly and vaingloriously smashed it to bits. He wanted to be the bringer of peace; he is instead the bringer of chaos. And we haven’t seen anything yet. – Commentary Magazine 

Noah Rothman writes: Your American passport used to mean something that no one on earth could afford to ignore. The Biden administration chose to sacrifice that hard-won advantage—no one else. Many will share the blame when we leave the Americans to fend for themselves while they’re surrounded by a vengeful fundamentalist militia. But the fault will not lie with those who have been abandoned by their own government. Some will do their best to make that case. Don’t let them get away with it. – Commentary Magazine 

Daniel F. Runde and Shannon McKeown writes: The short-term flow of humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan is necessary for the country’s stability and to mitigate the effects of famine and Covid-19. Any disruptions could seriously threaten the country’s future and erode important humanitarian gains over the last 20 years. Actions speak louder than words and several key steps from the Taliban will likely need to be made, especially on human and women’s rights, freedom of movement, and security conditions, for conversations on U.S. recognition and future long-term foreign aid to take place. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amirabdollahian that talks on the Iranian nuclear deal in Vienna should restart as soon as possible, the Russian foreign ministry said on Thursday. – Reuters 

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s newly appointed vice president for economic affairs minister Moshen Rezae is wanted by the International Criminal Police Organization for the 1994 mass murder of 85 Argentinians at the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires. – Jerusalem Post 

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi says the country is “seriously lagging behind” in certain social and economic areas and the government must act to “improve people’s livelihoods” as the country grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Former inmates, their families, and human rights activists have long complained of mistreatment and torture at Evin prison, a notorious facility in Tehran that is a primary site for political detainees. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Fardin Eftekhari writes: There is emerging criticism of Israel by Russia for “destabilizing” the region and doubts have been raised, especially since Benjamin Netanyahu’s departure, by high-profile Israeli national security experts about relations with Moscow and the risks that Russia’s Middle Eastern strategy poses to Israel’s interests. All of this suggests Russia may yet go further in supporting Iran’s backlash against Israel, particularly since the Russo-Iranian regional security alignment will get a new institutional and structural dimension from Iran’s looming accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Raisi era. – Middle East Institute 

Fariba Parsa writes: Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in as Iran’s new president on Aug. 5, 2021 and many Iranians are expecting women and youth to face new difficulties under his hardline administration. […]While activists with the campaign against honor killings will not be able to change Islamic law, and they can expect to be arrested and accused of activities against the regime and Islamic law, Iranian women nevertheless continue to courageously fight for women’s rights because they believe they can make life better for the next generation, with the goal that one day they will be able to live in freedom and peace. – Middle East Institute 


U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told Turkey’s trade minister it was critical that countries remove individual digital services taxes in connection with a broader multilateral agreement reached in talks led by the OECD, her office said. – Reuters 

As Turkey braces for a possible influx of refugees fleeing Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, concern over the potential impact is growing – fuelled by festering resentment over refugees already sheltering in the country. – Reuters 

Turkey has not made a final decision on a Taliban request for support to run the Kabul airport after foreign forces withdraw over security concerns and uncertainty in Afghanistan, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday, adding talks were still underway. – Reuters 


Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is set to meet President Biden for the first time Friday at the White House, where he is expected to make the case that Washington should back off from reviving a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program. – Wall Street Journal 

The Palestinian Authority’s “foreign ministry” attacked Prime Minister Naftali Bennett following the interview he gave to the New York Times ahead of his meeting with US President Joe Biden. – Arutz Sheva 

Although the Hamas security apparatuses keep a tight lid on protests against the Gaza authorities, including by arresting citizens who voice criticism on social media, these media continue to serve as a platform for criticism by Gazans against Hamas. – Middle East Media Research Institute 

The two countries’ intelligence services have a long history of cooperation and operated in virtual lock step during the Trump administration, which approved or was party to many Israeli operations in its shadow war against Iran. […] The challenge for the two countries — as Israel’s new prime minister, Naftali Bennett, meets with Mr. Biden at the White House on Thursday — will be whether they can rebuild that trust even as they pursue contradictory agendas on Iran. – New York Times 

Editorial: Yet the Administration may be as bull-headed in its Iran strategy as it was on its catastrophic Afghanistan approach. That would further increase the risks of war. With jihadists now on the march in Central Asia, limiting Iran’s malign activities is all the more important to America’s Mideast interests. – Wall Street Journal 

Yaakov Katz writes: Based on the threats from Israel in recent days, it could be that this is the direction Israel is once again headed. It wants to get Iranians to think it is preparing an attack, but no less important is getting the world and specifically Biden to think that scenes of Israeli fighter jets flying to Iran is a realistic option. – Jerusalem Post 

Ruthie Blum writes: Considering the makeup of the current Israeli government, there’s virtually no chance that it will affirm massive military action without at least a tacit nod from Biden. The theory that the US president might be amenable to such a move right now, in face of his humiliation at the hands of the Taliban, sounds too good – and far-fetched – to be true. – Jerusalem Post 

Lazer Berman writes: Finally, Bennett must ensure that Israel actually has the capability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program if he determines he must order such a consequential strike. At least now, after the Kabul bombing, he’ll know there’s little point in even asking America to ride shotgun. – Times of Israel 

Anshel Pfeffer writes: The best that can be hoped for from this meeting is that Bennett might listen and learn something of value from a man who is 29 years his senior and entered the Senate in 1972, the year Bennett was born. Other than that, all they have to do is smile for the cameras and utter some bland remarks about the unshakeable alliance. Once the doors to the Oval Office close, leaving them alone, they can congratulate each other on ruining Netanyahu’s vacation, as the opposition leader watches the proceedings on television, far away in his hotel room on a small island in Hawaii. – Haaretz 

Alexander Loengarov writes: The ICC is well aware of this global political context, as evident in one of the first questions raised in PTC I’s February 5 ruling: “Is the issue at hand political and as such non-justiciable?” […]Whether or not one believes the ICC should be entrusted with the goal of preventing the worst international crimes, it is crucial to acknowledge that the allegations brought before the court are often made in the context of intricate political disputes that the pursuit of international criminal justice cannot address by itself. – Washington Institute 


Lebanon’s energy ministry said it had picked Dubai’s ENOC in a tender to swap 84,000 tonnes of Iraqi high sulphur fuel oil with 30,000 tonnes of Grade B fuel oil and 33,000 tonnes of gasoil. – Reuters 

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern on Thursday about the deteriorating socio-economic situation in Lebanon and called on all “political leaders to urgently form an effective government of national unity,” his spokesman said. – Reuters 

The judge leading the investigation into last summer’s Beirut port blast issued a subpoena for caretaker Prime Minister Hassan Diab on Thursday after he failed to show up for questioning, Lebanon’s state news agency reported. – Reuters 

The European Union is deeply concerned at the rapid deterioration of the crisis in Lebanon, its ambassador to Beirut said on Thursday, telling Lebanese leaders the time for action had run out and urging them to form a government. – Reuters 

Middle East & North Africa

A senior United Arab Emirates official held talks with Qatar’s emir in Doha on Thursday in the first such visit in four years following this year’s deal to end a bitter dispute. – Reuters 

Noah Feldman writes: It’s not too late for the U.S. and its European allies to tell Saied that constitutional democracy does not allow a president to dissolve the elected parliament and threaten its members with arrest. Some losses, like Afghanistan, are inevitable. The loss of Tunisian democracy is not inevitable — and for that reason would be especially senseless and tragic. – Bloomberg 

Tomer Barak writes: The bottom line is that the Biden administration should view Jordan as a key component of its regional stability architecture, along with Egypt and the Gulf states. It would be a waste not to utilize King Abdullah’s window of opportunity to step forward with his vast experience and skills of being an innovator, a recruiter, and a connector who can energize regional processes. – Algemeiner 

Hal Brands writes: And now America’s regional allies surely worry, after the fall of Kabul, about their patron’s reliability. All of which means that the next few years will bring no shortage of crises that require an ambivalent superpower’s attention. The root of American misery in the Middle East is that U.S. interests there are real and the threats to them have proved fairly intractable. The irony of Biden’s policy is that it may sharpen that dilemma. – Bloomberg 

Korean Peninsula

South Korea’s vice defense minister on Thursday called for North Korea to resume cooperation under a 2018 military agreement on reducing tensions, which the North has threatened to abandon over U.S.-South Korean military exercises. – Associated Press 

U.N. human rights investigators have asked North Korea to clarify whether it has ordered troops to shoot on sight any trespassers who cross its northern border in violation of the country’s pandemic closure. – Associated Press 

Nearly 400 evacuated Afghans arrived on Thursday in Seoul, where the government said it was amending the law to allow long-term stays for those who worked on South Korean projects in Afghanistan before the Taliban seized power this month. – Reuters 


China plans to propose new rules that would ban companies with large amounts of sensitive consumer data from going public in the U.S., people familiar with the matter said, a move that is likely to thwart the ambitions of the country’s tech firms to list abroad. – Wall Street Journal 

U.S. special climate envoy John Kerry plans another trip to China next week, where he will press Chinese leaders to declare a moratorium on financing international coal-fired projects, according to people familiar with the matter. – Wall Street Journal 

China is maintaining “normal communication” with the United States on trade, the Chinese government said on Thursday, one of the few areas the world’s two largest economies have refrained from confronting each other over this year. – Reuters 

Jianli Yang writes: President Biden’s national security team has submitted their report to the White House, but as of this writing its results are not yet public. We will soon see how the investigators answered the critically important questions surrounding the origins of COVID-19, which has claimed millions of lives and continues to wreak havoc around the world. Everybody knows how vital it is for people to understand the role that China played in causing and prolonging the pandemic. – Newsweek 


Public frustration at the spread of Covid-19’s Delta variant is hurting the political standing of some Asia-Pacific leaders, including those in U.S. allies Australia and Japan. – Wall Street Journal 

Vice President Kamala Harris said the Biden administration would continue to call out China for its aggressive maritime claims in the South China Sea but doesn’t want a conflict with Beijing, as she sought to strike a balance with countries in the region caught between the rival powers. – Wall Street Journal 

A senior Hong Kong official has admitted that the city’s stringent travel quarantine regime had caused “suffering” for international businesses as executives warned that its reputation as a global financial hub was under threat. – Financial Times 

A series of blasts triggered by a fire at a military base in southern Kazakhstan killed five servicemen and wounded 90 people, authorities in the central Asian nation said on Friday. – Reuters 

Taiwan and Japan’s ruling parties discussed how to handle the rising challenge they both face from their neighbour China as well as possible military exchanges, during a virtual meeting that Beijing condemned as an affront to Chinese sovereignty. – Reuters 

A Hong Kong court on Friday approved bail for a student leader who is among four charged with “advocating terrorism” after their union passed a motion mourning the death of a 50-year-old who stabbed a police officer before killing himself. – Reuters 

Australia has stopped evacuation flights from Afghanistan after Islamic State suicide bombers killed scores of civilians and at least 13 U.S. military personnel in attacks outside the airport in Kabul, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday. – Reuters 

Taiwan announced a more modest pace in defence spending for next year on Thursday, but will spend $1.44 billion on new fighter jets, as the island bolsters its forces in the face of increased pressure from Beijing. – Reuters 

One of the last remaining independent members of Hong Kong’s legislature is losing his seat after a candidate vetting committee said he failed to uphold the former British colony’s mini-constitution, according to the city’s No. 2 official. – Bloomberg 

An ethnic Kazakh man from China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang has received a certificate confirming his Kazakh citizenship after serving 16 years in Chinese custody. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Evan A. Laksmana writes: But rather than finding ways to address Indonesia’s strategic dependence and vulnerability, policymakers in Jakarta have been content to stick to their old, passive tactic—and wait for what the great powers might offer. Beijing and Washington are more than happy to oblige, each hoping it can tilt Jakarta. Indonesia, meanwhile, hopes to continue reaping the benefits of playing one great power off the other, with only ASEAN as a mechanism for maintaining regional order. This is hope, not a strategy. – Foreign Policy 

South Caucasus

Ethnic Armenian separatists controlling parts of the region of Nagorno-Karabakh have detained an Azerbaijani soldier, whom Baku says escaped from a psychiatric clinic.- Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) says that dozens of Azerbaijani soldiers have blocked a road between two parts of Armenia’s southern region of Syunik after an alleged stabbing incident. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A court in Georgia has sent to pretrial detention five people from the South Caucasus nation’s northeastern Pankisi Gorge region who are being held on terrorism charges. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 


Russia has yet to determine its position towards the Taliban, and will see how they act toward the Afghan population and Russian diplomats, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesperson said on Thursday. – Reuters 

A court in Moscow has fined two activists for picketing the Afghan Embassy to demand that women’s rights be protected in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

The Moscow City Court has refused to consider a request filed by former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan, who was convicted in Russia on espionage charges that he denies, to transfer him home to serve the remainder of his sentence there. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

A court in Moscow has fined Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp for failing to localize the storage of personal data of its users amid a government campaign to gain more control over the Internet in Russia. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

William Courtney writes: The Kremlin might be tempted to think the U.S. is exhausted by burdens in the greater Middle East and will turn away from it. Despite some downsizing in the region, America is likely to retain substantial force to address threats from Iran or elsewhere. Washington is entering a period of deeper reflection and intensified debate over foreign and military policy. As it goes forward, the Kremlin might consider the U.S. record of overcoming previous misfortunes. – The Hill 


Europe’s largest nations have airlifted more than 9,000 Afghans out of their country in recent weeks and are bracing for the possibility that hundreds of thousands more will arrive, in what would be a major test of the region’s ability to absorb another wave of immigrants from the Muslim world. – Wall Street Journal 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called off a planned weekend visit to Israel because of the situation in Afghanistan, the German government said Thursday. – Associated Press 

Spain has concluded its evacuation of personnel from Afghanistan and the last evacuees are expected to land at the Torrejon military airbase near Madrid later on Friday, the government said. – Reuters 

Norway can no longer assist in evacuating remaining citizens from Afghanistan’s capital, Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Three of America’s top allies announced what the pair of deadly terror attacks in Kabul Thursday meant for their involvement in the humanitarian mission in Afghanistan, all before the White House. – Washington Examiner 

Britain and the European Union can sensibly solve issues over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements with the right political will, Irish Prime Minister Micheál Martin said after meeting French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday. – Reuters 

Brussels has warned that it will sever a data-sharing agreement with the UK if London’s attempts to rewrite its internet laws are found to pose a threat to EU citizens’ privacy. – Financial Times 

Bulgaria announced on August 26 that it will bolster its border with Greece and Turkey with between 400 and 700 soldiers amid growing concern in Europe over an influx of migrants from Afghanistan. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

Poland has accused the Belarusian authorities of not allowing humanitarian assistance to be delivered to a group of about 30 migrants stranded on the border between the two countries. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 



The ongoing war and humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia’s north could affect the country’s trade benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office said. – Reuters 

Gunmen killed at least 150 people last week in western Ethiopia in an attack by an armed group against local residents, the state-appointed Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said on Thursday. – Reuters 

Gunmen in Nigeria have freed a number of pupils who were kidnapped from an Islamic school in May, according to their head teacher. – BBC 

North America

The Pentagon effort to use U.S. airlines to ease crowded conditions at overseas military bases is creating a new bottleneck at Dulles International Airport, where planes carrying Afghan refugees are stacking up on the tarmac as officials take up to 10 hours to process passengers before they can disembark. – Wall Street Journal 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a snap Sept. 20 election to benefit from his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination program, but now faces questions over how his Liberal government dealt with this month’s chaos in Kabul. – Reuters 

Canadian forces in Kabul ended evacuation efforts for their citizens and Afghans earlier on Thursday, ahead of an Aug. 31 deadline, acting chief of the defense staff General Wayne Eyre said. – Reuters 

United States

In the days before the twin explosions rocked the international airport in Kabul and left U.S. service members dead, former President Donald Trump and his associates sought to differentiate their planned withdrawal from Afghanistan from the one being carried out by President Joe Biden. – Washington Examiner 

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday called for bringing the chamber back from recess so lawmakers can vote on legislation that would prohibit withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan until all remaining Americans are evacuated.  – The Hill 

Michael Rubin writes: History is awash in valiant rescues. Biden’s team does not deserve to compare themselves to any. At best, they show themselves afflicted by the national security equivalent of Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy, seeking praise from an ailment for which they themselves are responsible. – 19fortyfive 

Michael Rubin writes: It is good to see Congress assert its role. Perhaps had Pelosi and McCarthy recognized that oversight trumps partisan sniping, the United States would not be facing its worst crisis in decades and a hostage situation which could make the 1979 Iran embassy seizure seem by comparison a walk-in the park. – 19fortyfive 

Shoshana Bryen writes: Don’t be satisfied with empty posturing when it comes to Russia. President Biden just banned the importation of Russian ammunition to the U.S., ostensibly because of President Vladimir Putin’s treatment of dissident Alexei Navalny. It is a small, petty, laughable thing to do on Navalny’s behalf after permitting Russia to finish the Nord Stream II pipeline, which will yield billions of dollars of hard currency earnings and the ability to hold Europe hostage to Russian energy sources in the winter. Biden’s move was designed to irritate American gun owners. Don’t think Putin doesn’t know it. – Newsweek 

Rachel Tecott writes: Too often, the United States’ efforts to train and equip foreign militaries have been motivated by bureaucratic logic rather than sound strategy. The fall of Kabul exposed more than the rot within the armies the United States builds. It also exposed the rot within the United States’ approach to building them. – Foreign Affairs 

Heather A. Conley and James Andrew Lewis write: Today, the international system stands at Berra’s fork and is heeding his advice by taking two roads simultaneously. The first road is the well-trodden one: the international community continues to practice multilateral diplomacy and follow the post 1945 international patterns of cooperation—but with fewer productive results. The second is an as yet unchartered path of new patterns of behavior marked by technological competition and coercion, the revitalization and modernization of industrial policies, and a radical rethink of the role of governance and diplomacy. – Center for Stratrgic and International Studies 

Will Mackie writes: Currently, there is a clear absence of any substantive domestic U.S. law that restricts U.S. citizens from serving abroad as foreign fighters. The question now for policymakers is whether to continue with this status quo in which U.S. citizens are free to serve as foreign mercenaries for hire around the globe. […]The risks such unregulated private paramilitary conduct poses to U.S. foreign policy interests greatly outweigh the value of any “personal freedom” to engage in armed combat anywhere for personal profit. – War on the Rocks 

Giselle Donnelly and Iulia Ioja writes: Chinese propagandists are delighted, not least by Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s supplication for help in creating a “soft landing” for Afghanistan under the Taliban. “After the fall of the Kabul regime, the Taiwan authorities must be trembling,” tweeted Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times (the English-language equivalent of the People’s Daily) “Don’t look…to the U.S. to protect them.” Napoleon got it backwards: The world will shake as America sleeps. – The Hill 


Cuba’s government said Thursday it will recognize — and regulate — cryptocurrencies for payments on the island. – Associated Press 

Some of the largest U.S. technology companies have committed to investing billions of dollars to strengthen cybersecurity after a series of high-profile attacks on U.S. companies believed to have been carried out by Russian hackers. – Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty 

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on Thursday released a statement “demanding answers” from the Biden Administration about a Reuters report the U.S. has approved license applications worth hundreds of millions of dollars for China’s Huawei to buy chips for its growing auto business. – Reuters 

The House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) markup of the Biden administration’s proposed fiscal 2022 defense budget establishes two new entities to bolster public-private cyber information sharing and collaboration, as well as a new Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) program management office (PMO) to buy cyber products. – Breaking Defense 


In a couple years, cyber warriors in the military branches will use a single, new platform to deliver electronic fires over networks for offensive operations. – C4SIRNET 

The U.S. Navy has conducted a second-stage solid rocket motor test for a hypersonic weapon in development, the service announced Aug. 26. – Defense News 

U.S. Space Force leaders said the service has made headway in implementing its vision to become the world’s first fully digital service, when asked at the 36th annual Space Symposium. – Defense News 

Army leaders in charge of aviation modernization say they have carved out a realistic, but ambitious schedule to move through a competitive development effort and field a Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft by 2030. – Defense News 

China’s recent full-speed-ahead breakout in nuclear forces, space and cyber efforts, and hypersonic systems adds new urgency to America’s need to ensure its deterrence systems are holding, U.S. Strategic Command’s top officer said Thursday. – USNI News 

The United States has actively pursued the development of hypersonic weapons—maneuvering weapons that fly at speeds of at least Mach 5—as a part of its conventional prompt global strike program since the early 2000s. […]Critics, on the other hand, contend that hypersonic weapons lack defined mission requirements, contribute little to U.S. military capability, and are unnecessary for deterrence. – USNI News 

The ambitious startup Firefly Aerospace expects to launch its first rocket, Alpha, from Vandenberg Space Force Base one week from today, setting up what could be a spirited rivalry with California-based Rocket Labs. – Breaking Defense 

Jessica West writes: As someone who advocates for the development of new norms for military activities in space, I recognize both the value of effective norms — and the difficulty in creating them. Strong norms are the glue of collective governance. But without the right ingredients, that glue won’t adhere to all surfaces or will soon dry out. Needed are shared principles and values, combined with constant efforts to build community and trust through dialogue. – Breaking Defense 

Margaux Hoar, Jeremy Sepinsky, and Peter M. Swartz write: The next step in advancing a combatant command configuration that works for the peacetime competition of today and modern conflict of tomorrow would be for national security leaders to turn the unthinkable into new, feasible organizing principles. They should then test them and have the courage and fortitude to design a fit-for-purpose Unified Command Plan. – War on the Rocks 

Jonathan Freeman writes: New Air Force intelligence analysts are currently assigned missions they are wholly ill-equipped to solve. Tailoring the service’s learning policy and incorporating the ideas and theories presented here could provide the backbone and continuity for intelligence analysts to support new approaches to defense strategies and ensure future Air Force victories. – War on the Rocks 

Long War

Just as the Taliban has been fighting American coalition forces in Afghanistan, it has been waging a separate but parallel war against its rival Islamist group. – Wall Street Journal 

A Taliban spokesman said there was “no proof” that Osama bin Laden was involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Bin Laden’s well documented role as the plotter of the attacks made him the most wanted fugitive in the world until he was killed by U.S. Navy SEALs in 2011. – Washington Post 

For months, terrorism analysts warned that Islamic State-linked militants in Afghanistan would try to turn the Biden administration’s exit into a bloody spectacle.  – Washington Post 

Ben Hubbard, Eric Schmitt and Matthew Rosenberg write: The nightmare that kept counterterrorism experts awake even before the Taliban returned to power is that Afghanistan would become fertile ground for terrorist groups, most notably Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. […]The Islamic State has no such constraints, which could leave it better positioned to exploit the chaos surrounding the Aug. 31 deadline for the United States withdrawal and the transition from a United States-backed government to the Taliban. – New York Times